Annular Eclipse: What to Expect

orange ring of Sun, mostly blocked by black moon

The eclipse on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023, will be an annular solar eclipse. An annular solar eclipse happens when the Moon passes between the Sun and Earth while it is at its farthest point from Earth. Because the Moon is farther away from Earth, it appears smaller than the Sun and does not completely cover the star. Because the Sun is never completely covered, observers must wear proper eye protection at all times while watching an annular eclipse.

What you can see during an annular eclipse depends on the weather and the location from which you view it.

Weather. You need a clear view of the Sun and Moon to see the eclipse. However, even with cloud cover, the eerie daytime darkness associated with eclipses is still noticeable.

Location. To see all phases of an annular eclipse, you must view it from somewhere along the path of annularity: the locations on Earth from which the Moon will appear to pass across the center of the Sun. The path of annularity across North America for the Oct. 14, 2023, annular eclipse is shown below. More detailed map views, including the timetable of each phase of the eclipse at select locations, are available here.

Illustrated map of the United States shows the path of the 2023 eclipse. The path crosses from Oregon down through Texas, exiting over the ocean.
This map illustrates the paths of the Moon’s shadow across the U.S. during the 2023 annular solar eclipse.
NASA/Scientific Visualization Studio

Phases of an Annular Eclipse

Partial Eclipse

A reddish sky is shown with the bright circle of the Sun, a dark bite taken out of it. The dark circle covering about a third of the Sun's left side is the Moon, during a solar eclipse. In the foreground is the silhouette of the U.S. Capitol.
A partial solar eclipse emerges from behind the United States Capitol on June 10, 2021, as seen from Arlington, Virginia. The annular or “ring of fire” solar eclipse was only completely visible in Greenland, northern Russia, and Canada.
Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

As the Moon begins to pass in front of the Sun, it will produce a partial eclipse. The Moon will slowly block more and more of the Sun’s light, making the Sun appear as a smaller and smaller crescent before it forms a “C” shape. This phase is also known as first contact.


An annular eclipse showing the Sun's orange ring around the Moon's silhouette against a dark black sky
This photograph of an annular solar eclipse was taken on May 20, 2012.
Credit: NASA/Bill Dunford

About an hour and 20 minutes after the partial eclipse phase begins, the Moon will pass completely in front of the Sun, leaving a “ring” of Sun visible from behind the Moon. This period is known as annularity, or second contact. It will last between 1 and 5 minutes for most places, depending on where you view it from. During the eclipse, the sky will grow dimmer, though not as dark as during a total solar eclipse. Some animals may begin to behave as if it is dusk and the air may feel cooler.

Return to Partial Eclipse

The Moon will then continue passing across the Sun’s face for about an hour and 20 minutes, producing another partial eclipse phase. This phase is also called third contact.

Partial Eclipse Ends

The Moon continues to move until it no longer overlaps the Sun's disk. The eclipse is over. This phase is also known as fourth contact.

Keep Exploring

Discover More Topics From NASA